Secures 4th Term, Keeping Germany on Centrist Course
This article is by Unknown (no name given) on Truthdig. It
starts as follows:
Germany ended months
of political uncertainty Sunday when Chancellor Angela Merkel gained
the support needed to preserve her governing coalition and secure a
fourth term as leader of Europe’s most powerful economy.
The center-left Social
Democrats voted overwhelmingly to remain in a coalition with Merkel’s
conservative bloc, after difficult and drawn-out negotiations triggered
by September’s elections, which saw the rise of a new right-wing force
in German politics and raised questions about Merkel’s future.
Parliament is expected to
meet March 14 to re-elect Merkel as chancellor, ending the longest time
Germany has been without a new government after elections in its
Perhaps I should add
that I picked this article mostly because I am an European,
although having said that I also should add that I like Merkel
(somewhat) because - unlike the lawyers who are politicians
in Holland - she used to be a good scientist; she is undoubtedly
intelligent; she used to live in the GDR; and - while I may
disagree with her policies and regularly do - she is at least rational.
(In fact, I do not know of any one of the Dutch
politicians of whom this holds.)
In any case, she will
be chancellor again and it is expected this will be her general policy:
Merkel has drawn flak from
both left and right for maintaining an unabashedly centrist course
since taking office in 2005. With the coalition approved, she can now
turn her attention to tackling rising anti-immigrant sentiment in
Germany while pushing forward efforts to reform the stumbling European
I like that policy a
lot more than the right-wing Alternative for Germany. And there also is
this bit on the AfD:
With Merkel’s bloc and the
second-place Social Democrats in government, the right-wing Alternative
for Germany, or AfD, now represents the biggest opposition party in
Parliament, giving it a prominent platform to attack the chancellor.
Its leaders have vowed to
“hunt” Merkel, though so far AfD’s novice lawmakers have stood out
mainly by failing to grasp parliamentary procedures and putting forward
motions all other parties reject.
Perhaps. We shall see.
In any case, given the outcome of the German elections, I think this was
the best outcome. And this is a recommended article.
and Hackers Find It Easy to Trick Americans Because We Are a Nation of
This article is by Sophia A. McClennen on AlterNet and
originally on Salon. This is from near the beginning:
Suddenly the breaking news
story is that bots and trolls and other agents of disinformation are
not only trying to influence our elections, they are trying to cause
conflict among U.S. citizens. And of course, most of the news
suggests that the source of these digital media attacks is
The real problem is that
the United States is one of the least intelligent nations in the
developed world. We aren’t good at processing and analyzing
information, and that makes us suckers for bots, trolls and all other
sorts of disinformation tactics.
I say! I completely
agree, but it is only very rarely that the stupidity and
that mark so much of the USA's "political discourses" (the polite
term) is as much as being noted. This time it is and I am glad,
though I also have to admit that McClennen has the postmodernist
title of being (I quote)
"Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature at the
Pennsylvania State University".
Anyway... here is more by her:
We measure intelligence in
lots of ways, but at the top of the list is literacy and numeracy. A
study published in September 2017 by the U.S. Department of
Education found that U.S. adults performed the lowest of all developed
nations in numeracy. They also found that our literacy was on the low
end of developed nations. Most interesting was the finding that young
adults in their 20s from Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan who
did not finish high school had the same literacy levels of U.S. high
I happen to be Dutch
and I have seen the Dutch education system being mostly collapsed
towards stupidity, ignorance and - especially - Blatcherism: In
Holland it has become the fashion since the early 1980ies to provide
for almost anyone Blatcherist courses at "universities" that
cost at least ten times as much as they did in the 1970ies while delivering
at most half of the contents.
You may disagree with
me, and my reaction will be that if you are Dutch you are very
probably "an academic" who makes a lot of money each year with teaching
and who excels in a single thing only: lying to cover his or
her self-interest, while if you are not Dutch you very
probably have no idea how the Dutch educational system - that was
quite good from 1865 till 1965 - has been and is completely derailed,
in fact since the 1970ies (though hardly anyone cares in Holland, for
most Dutchmen hate anyone obviously more intelligent than they are).
Also, I insist that in
Holland similar things happened as in the rest of Europe, both in
forced mis-education and in other things, which I style Blatcherism because they were - i.a. - put forward
by the biggest social fascist who ever controlled the Labour Party:
The big millionaire - presently estimated to hold 150 million
pounds, that also are his sole and major interest - the degenerate Tony
But I know less about
the rest of Europe compared to Holland, in part because I am Dutch and
in part because the Dutch development was quite curious:
Holland was the only nation in the whole world were the
universities were effectively given to the students between 1971 and
1995, who also turned out to be quasi-Marxists and real
with at most 1 in 20 in all those years having any real interest in
Back to the USA and
McClennen, who explains - quite convincingly - that in the USA
education has been even less worth the last 40 years or so (at least)
than it was in Europe:
Study after study shows
that the United States underperforms in literacy across the developed
world — especially given its resources. But that isn’t even the core
issue; the real problem is the way we have consistently devalued
quality education across all levels for decades.
Consider the fact that 14 states teach creationism in public
schools. Add to that the reality that a Pew Research Study from 2015 found
that 34 percent of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying
humans and other living things have existed in their present form since
the beginning of time.
First, I agree
that "the real problem is
the way we have consistently devalued
quality education across all levels for decades" - and in fact I go considerably further because I
have been both part and victim of this development that went on since 1965 (the beginning of the arrival of the
Baby Boomer Generation) and have been one of the sole protesters
against it, which is explained by the fact that (i) nearly all
students - 95% to be quite exact - were only interested in getting
a degree, and were NOT
interested at all in the knowledge they gained or might have
gained by attending a university, and (ii) nearly all the academics
- all but two, in my experience of 16 years in the University
of Amsterdam - lied
and lied and lied and lied, and were in fact only
interested in three things (a) their high incomes (b) their high status
and (c) the fact that they hardly needed to work.
These are all facts for me,
for they are based on 16 years of consistently the same experiences
(and in these years I was i.a. denied the right to take my
- excellent - M.A. in the "University" of Amsterdam, because I had
dared to criticize the parasites, flukes and idiots that pretended to
teach me, and because I was "a dirty fascist" and "a terrorist" - in 1988!! - because I had said I was not
a Marxist, and
was opposed to the quasi-Marxist student-group the ASVA, that in fact
held most of the powers in the "University" of Amsterdam between 1971
and 1995. (Incidentally: I have the most communist background of
absolutely everyone who studied at the "University" of Amsterdam: Both of my parents were communists for 45
years; both were heroes in the Dutch resistance against Nazism; my
communist father and communist grandfather were arrested in August of
1941 and comdemned as "political terrorists" to Nazi concentration camps,
which my grandfather did not survive, while my mother's parents were
anarchists all their adult lives - and no: None of my family
had serious problems that I rejected Marx and Marxism age
20, because they all knew my reasons were quite serious and based on
lengthy studies of Marx. They also disagreed, but they knew I was quite
Here is McClennen's
judgement on the causes of the great declines in education in the
But it isn’t just our
knowledge base that’s the problem; it’s the fact that the United States
has effectively abandoned the notion that investing in education is
critical for the future of our nation.
I agree, but I also strongly
suspect that (i) this is more or less the same in Europe and that (ii)
the reason was the Baby Boomer Generation: it was - I suspect but
do not know how to prove - already decided in 1965 these would have
on average a much worse education than the previous generations,
and namely because many of the academics-to-be were from a poor
It is a guess,
but it also is the only reasonable explanation I know for the collapse
of first class education in Europe, whence it disappeared as it
disappeared in the USA: Only a very few - expensive and "elitist" -
universities continued to give roughly the same education after 1965 as
before 1965; most universities simply gave considerably less education.
Here is more by
McClennen about the USA:
Yes and no: I'd say all
of education got worse, not just "higher education" and certainly not
just in levels of literacy. Also, this did not just happen in the USA:
it happened in Europe as well, although indeed not to the same extent.
Our pathetic commitment to
higher education is only surpassed by our poor media literacy. In order
to reject false media information, citizens need to not just be
literate; they need to be media literate.
And that’s where Fox News
comes in. Fox News continues to command the number one slot in cable news, with Sean
Hannity’s show as its most watched program. Yet Fox News statements by
pundits and their guests are
ranked by Politifact as true only 10 percent of the time.
As to Hannity: I do not know whether it is true that Fox News
is "true only 10 percent
of the time", but I suspect
it is. And one reason for me to avoid Fox News and Sean Hannity
is simply that they seem to be preaching to people with IQs of 75
maximum and mostly large holes were others know at least something.
And that stupidity is not the stuff I am going to watch.
Here is more on critical thinking in the USA:
It’s not just that
we aren’t good at critical thinking; we don’t even value it. The United
States, seeking to distance itself from its European counterparts, was
founded on a deep anti-intellectualism. As Richard Hofstadter reminds
us in "Anti-Intellectualism and American Life," Puritan
John Cotton once wrote “the more learned and witty you bee, the more
fit to act for Satan you will bee.”
Actually, I do not
know what McClennen understands by "critical thinking". In fact, I
assume that in order to do what I understand by it, one has to
have a good understanding of mathe- matics, logic, physics, and
philosophy of science, but then I know from my "academic
experiences" in a European "University" that at most 1 in a 100,
and probably no more than 1 in 500, do get such an understanding in
the present-day "universities". (There will be some in physics
and mathematics, but I fear this again only applies to the private
initiatives of the most intelligent, although I may be mistaken there.)
And this is about the level of ordinary voters in the USA, or
thus it seems:
Don’t forget that
much of the left continues to blame Russia or misogyny or Bernie
Sanders for the outcome of the election, rather than Clinton’s flawed
policy platform — a move unsubstantiated by facts yet constantly
shared on left-leaning social media. Eleven percent of Clinton
voters thought Barack Obama was born in Kenya and 18
percent of her voters thought that vaccines cause autism, despite overwhelming
scientific proof to the contrary.
Quite so, but then indeed
these voters (!!) were not supposed to have a university education.
And this is about the average level of adult Americans:
A 2006 Zogby poll found that more
Americans can identify the Three Stooges than the three branches of
government. Another poll from that same year found that 77
percent of Americans could name two of Snow Whites’ dwarves but only 24
percent could name two Supreme Court Justices.
I am one of the few (it seems)
who is quite frightened by the normal levels of American stupidity and ignorance.
Here is McClennen's ending:
So before we overly
invest energy and resources into shutting down propaganda, hoax news
and other forms of disinformation, we should probably make an effort to
wise up. Philosopher Steven Nadler wonders if it is even possible
to “fix American stupidity,” a mindset he
describes as intellectual stubbornness. Yet, thus far, we have
stubbornly refused to take stock of our own critical thinking failures.
The stupidest thing we could do is try to solve this problem by
ignoring our own collective stupidity.
Yes, I agree: There
will not be much improvement in the levels of stupidity and
ignorance that rule the majority the USA until the level of education
has been considerably improved. And I do not see this happening
- what I have seen happening was the destruction of nearly all
levels of higher education, and the halving of all education.
And in my case, I
experienced that in Europe, and experienced nothing else since
1965, that is for over 50 years. Then again, I
agree with McClennen that it is even worse in the USA. And this is a
This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as
turn to Jared Kushner, let me ask: Do you believe the U.S. government
right thing all or most of the time?
organization started asking this question in 1963, when over 70 percent
Americans said they did. Since then, the percent has steadily
declined. By 2016,
before Trump became president, only 16 percent of Americans agreed.
decline? Surely various disappointments and scandals played a part –
Watergate, Iran-Contra, “weapons of mass destruction,” the Wall Street
But the largest
factor by far has been the rise of big money in politics. Most people
believe their voices count.
That view is
backed by solid research.
I think this is correct
- and the "solid research" Reich mentions is briefly presented in his
article, but is skipped in my review.
But I do hold fast to
one thing: In roughly 55 years the trust that "the American government"
was doing mostly the right things fell from 70% to 16% - which
also may be translated (rather fairly, in my opinion) by saying that the
average American no longer believe he or she is living in a real
And I think that
inference is correct. Here is more on Trump and Sanders:
Bernie Sanders – authoritarian populist and progressive populist,
– based their shockingly successful campaigns on the public’s outrage
at the corruption
of our democracy by big money. Sanders called for a “political
Trump promised to “drain the swamp.”
drained it, of course. He’s turned the entire government into a giant
lobbyists, real estate moguls, Wall Streeters, and billionaires.
I think that is right -
and Reich might have added, but did not, that an important reason why
Sanders did not fight the presidential struggle with Trump, which he
probably would have won, because Hillary Clinton did her best to
destroy his chances, and mostly succeeded, only to fail herself in
Here is more on Jared Kushner
(Trump's son in law):
When he took the White
House job, Kushner chose not to follow the usual
practice of wealthy people when they join administrations – putting
assets into blind trusts managed by outside experts.
Instead, Kushner retained
control over the vast majority of his interest in
Kushner Companies, worth as much as $761 million, according to
So how has Kushner
separated his business dealings from his
dealings on behalf of the United States? He hasn’t.
And this in turn means
that Kushner may be attacked in his business dealings by politicians
from quite a few countries, and in fact he was, as Reich also briefly
Yes indeed. But such rules
simply do not hold for Trump and his team, which is another
reason they should be removed as soon as possible (though - alas, alas
- probably not before the end of 2018). And this is a recommended
Kushner is such an easy
mark that officials in
at least four countries have privately discussed ways to manipulate him
financial deals, according to U.S. intelligence.
Kushner insists that he’s
done nothing wrong,
and there’s no direct evidence he has profited off his position in
White House or
put personal financial interests ahead of the interests of the American
But that’s not the point.
Conflicts of interest
are always difficult to prove, which is why we have ethics rules to
the appearance of such conflicts.
Galeotti’s response to Putin’s plea for reason: lies & penis jokes
This article is by Catte on the Off-Guardian. It starts with
produced two responses to Putin’s speech of
March 1, in which he both unveiled far-reaching new Russia weapons
systems and used this as a platform to (once again) plead for an end to
Western warmongering. Both of them display both the
intellectual/educational/ethical impoverishment of the authors (an
impoverishment that is now systematic in corporate media), but also the
completely delusional world they inhabit. Today we take a look at Mark
Galeotti’s Putin’s new arms race is all about his
need to be taken seriously.
I think this introduction
was not written by Catte but by the editor of the Off-Guardian. I like
the Off-Guardian, in considerable part indeed because I agree with
considerable parts of their criticism of The Guardian.
As to The Guardian: It probably was - a remnant of - the leftist and
progressive paper until the previous editor (Alan Rusbridger)
but since then it has fallen deeply. It seems Rusbridger is claimed to
have made the finances of The Guardian worse, which again seems the highest
concern of those working for The Guardian.
And I also have to admit that since The Guardian made copying much more
difficult than it was, I have mostly totally given up on it,
and indeed not primarily because copying is more difficult, but because
The Guardian's policies seem to have changed a lot.
Back to Catte and the Off-Guardian who opens her article on Mark
Galeotti as follows:
Mark Galeotti, who
is apparently (believe it or not) “senior researcher at the Institute
of International Relations Prague and head of its Centre for European
Security” went full idiot in the Guardian yesterday with a short piece
entitled Putin’s new arms race is all about his
need to be taken seriously.
The mere fact the title
carries with it the implication that we don’t need to take
the elected president of the largest country in the world with enough
nuclear weapons to eradicate all life in earth “seriously” is enough to
tell us all about the level of Mark’s contact with veridical reality.
He clearly lives in that well-populated Washington/Langley logic-free
dream zone where Russia is both a dangerous rogue state with enough
reach to “hack” the US election and “attack” America, and a
silly little rusty nowhere country to be mocked and patronised into
I think this is quite
right. And I didn't know who Galeotti is, but this indeed also takes
away all possible interest I might have had in him, for definitely is a
spinner of lies, dreams and delusions.
Here is more on the
quality of his lies or delusions:
He tells us the weapons
Putin talked about might sound “terrifying” but that’s ok because they
probably won’t work (you know, much like the F-35), and anyhow, the
animations in the presentation were “clunky”, and gee gosh,
it’s all so frickin funny. (..) because…
It is easy to wonder,
with a snigger, quite for what Putin is (over)compensating.
In case his sledgehammer
wit is too subtle for you, Mark means Putin has a small penis.
Yes, apparently he really thinks this comment says more about Putin’s
manhood than about Mark Galeotti and his imbecilic reductionism.
I think this is correct
as well. Here is the end of the article:
It’s clear to anyone who
reads Putin’s speech and has listened to anything he has said on the
topic for the last sixteen years, that he is very very worried the
effective cancellation of the MAD doctrine might result in a nuclear
war. It’s clear he sees the restitution of balance to be as much about
reducing that risk as about defending his homeland.
The fact Mark either
doesn’t understand these basic facts or thinks it’s safe to ignore them
is in truth a personification of that massive “problem”. And until
Washington and its babbling idiot mouthpieces can wake up to this,
realise they don’t actually “make a new reality” simply by talking
about it, the future of the human race continues to hang by a thread.
I agree. And this
article explains some of my attitudes to The Guardian, which indeed
have grown more and more sour since 2013, and it is recommended.